Bomarea caldesii – a climbing alstroemeria

Alstroemerias are useful garden plants and are undoubtedly great cut flowers but I can never really get excited about them. I can’t say quite why but I think it is because there is no real plant – its just a stick with flowers on the end – just like lilies really. I know I am being unfair because the ‘sticks’ are interesting in a way because of the way each leaf is twisted round so they are upside down. That must get them a few extra points for oddness. But bomareas get even more points because they are, to all intents and purposes, climbing altroemerias. So look away now if you don’t like plants that need support! It has been a few years since I have grown one but B. caldesii was looking spectacular at Glasnevin. Growing from fleshy roots that, like the related alstroemerias, hate disturbance, these South American, herbaceous climbers are differentiated from alstroemerias not just for their habit but the seed pods which do not explode like alstroemerias and the seeds which, in bomareas, are covered in a bright, fleshy coat – which should be removed before sowing. Seed is quite a good way to get hold of these plants and they germinate quite readily if stratified. If sown in autumn, leave the pot outside and the seeds should germinate in spring and the plants should flower in their second or third year. All the species come from South America, from Mexico down the Andean spine to the south of Chile and grow through shrubs so like some shade, while allowing the flowers to open in the sun. They hate high temeratures (above about 30c) and most will tolerate only a little frost if at all, though B. caldesii, once the rootstock is a few years old, and well mulched, will take a few degrees of frost. Plant in moist, humus rich soil and watch as the stems get taller with every new shoot and eventually erupt in a cluster of up to 50, spectacular, bell-shaped flowers, variously spotted, speckled and dotted. bomarea caldesii I once grew this under a large avocado in an unheated greenhouse where it reached about 2m but this plant at Glasnevin was probably twice this size with loads of stems climbing and arching over other shrubs. bomarea caldesii2

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7 Comments on “Bomarea caldesii – a climbing alstroemeria”

  1. sueturner31
    October 30, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Really like this Bomarea…I have been growing B’ Hirtella in a pot for about 4 years …this year it reached about 2mts 50 growing up a trellis outside…do you think it could be put in the ground permanently or should I still play safe ? 🙂

    • thebikinggardener
      October 30, 2014 at 9:08 am #

      Well done! Because you have done so well I would hesitate to tell you to do anything different though most refs say that they grow better in the ground than in pots! It depends what you do with your plant in winter – do you take it inside? I would think that it would be ok outside if the soil is not wet and the roots are mulched but I would not risk it if it was my only plant! I would definitely not plant it out till spring anyway so it has a season to establish before winter.

      • sueturner31
        October 30, 2014 at 11:33 am #

        Thanks for that, all taken on board. I do take it in for the winter. I may rethink next spring as I do have a sheltered spot.

  2. Meriel
    October 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Simply gorgeous. Re Alstroemeria, my cousin has a wonderful large patch of bright orange Alstroemeria aurea which I fell in love with at first sight. I gather it is usually considered a thug but she grows it at the edge of trees & surrounded by grass so controls by mowing, I imagine. Unfortunately I haven’t been in her part of the country for several years so haven’t managed to beg some! I thought you would like them for their cut flower quantities, though, I think the short varieties are a bit dumpy.

    • thebikinggardener
      November 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      Yes, that species can be a nuisance and I once had it in a garden where it spread like mad by its roots and the exploding seed pods! But when in bloom it was amazing – just a shame it doesnt flower as long as the new hybrids. I do like alstroes for their cut flower use but I just find them less than exciting somehow. And i think it is the dwarf ones that have put me off them! The stunted ones that are bred for baskets and containers are horrible!

  3. Meriel
    November 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Do you think then that I would regret any introduction of A. Aurea? I had no idea it self seeded & re shortness of flowering. I am adjoining the commonage of the mountain so am now somewhat cautious re some self seeders!

    • thebikinggardener
      November 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Well I dont think it would spread into grassland or into the wild so no worries there. But most of the species, including A. aurea and the ligtu hybrids have one fantastic flush of blooms and then seed. They are great while in flower but you dont get months of bloom as you do with the modern hybrids which are basically derived from the cutflower cvs. that are grown in greenhouses. I have one of those in the borders here and they bloom for almost six months – still dont really excite me though lol

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